Modern History Sourcebook:
A. L. Geyer:
The Case for Apartheid, 1953
The following speech was given before the Rotary Club of London
on August 19, 1953. A supporter of apartheid explains why it is
the best policy for all races in South Africa.
As one of the aftermaths of the last war, many people seem to
suffer from a neurotic guiltcomplex with regard to colonies.
This has led to a strident denunciation of the Black African's
wrongs, real or imaginary, under the white man's rule in Africa.
It is a denunciation, so shrill and emotional, that the vast debt
owed by Black Africa to those same white men is lost sight of
(and, incidentally, the Black African is encouraged to forget
that debt). Con fining myself to that area of` which I know at
least a very little, Africa south of the Equator, I shall say
this without fear of reasonable contradiction: ever) millimetre
of progress in all that vast area is due entirely to the White
Man. You are familiar with the cry that came floating over the
ocean from the West-a cry that "colonialism" is outmoded
and pernicious, a cry that is being vociferously echoed by a certain
gentleman in the East. (This refers to Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime
Minister of India.)
May I point out that African colonies are of comparatively recent
date Before that time Black Africa did have independence for a
thousand years and more-and what did she make of it? One problem,
I admit, she did solve most effectively. There was no overpopulation.
Interminable savage inter tribal wars, witchcraft, disease, famine,
and even cannibalism saw to that.
Let me turn to my subject, to that part of Africa south of the
Sahara which, historically, is not part of Black Africa at all
- my own country. Its position is unique in Africa as its racial
problem is unique in the world.
- South Africa is no more the original home of its black Africans,
the Bantu than it is of its white Africans. Both races went there
as colonists and, what is more, as practically contemporary colonists.
In some parts the Bantu arrived first, in other parts the Europeans
were the first comers.
- South Africa contains the only independent white nation in
all Africa ~. South African nation which has no other homeland
to which it could retreat; a nation which has created a highly
developed modern state, and t which occupies a position of inestimable
- South Africa is the only independent country in the world
in which white people are outnumbered by black people.
Including all coloured races or peoples the proportion in Brazil
is 20 to 1. In South Africa it is 1 to 4.
This brings me to the question of the future. To me there seems
to be two possible lines of development: Apartheid or Partnership.
Partnership means Cooperation of the individual citizens within
a single community, irrespective of race.... (It) demands that
there shall be no discrimination whatsoever in trade and industry,
in the professions and the Public Service. Therefore, whether
a man is black or a white African, must according to this policy
be as irrelevant as whether in London a man is a Scotsman or an
Englishman. I take it: that Partnership must also aim at the eventual
disappearance of all social segregation based on race. This policy
of Partnership admittedly does not envisage immediate adult suffrage.
Obviously, however, the loading of the franchise in order to exclude
the great majority of the Bantu could be no wore than a temporary
expedient.... (In effect) "there must one day be black domination,
in the sense that power must pass to the immense African majority.
Need I say more to show that this policy of Partnership could,
in South Africa, only mean the eventual disappearance of the white
South African nation? And will you be greatly surprised if I tell
you that this white nation is not prepared to commit national
suicide, not even by slow poisoning? The only alternative is a
policy of apartheid, the policy of separate development.
The germ of this policy is inherent in almost all of our history,
implanted there by the force of circumstances.... Apartheid
is a policy of self preservation. We make no apology for possessing
that very natural urge. But it is more than that. It is an attempt
at selfpreservation in a manner that will enable the Bantu
to develop fully as a separate people.
We believe that, for a long time to come, political power will
have to remain with the whites, also in the interest of our still
very immature Bantu. But we believe also, in the words of a statement
by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1950, a Church that favours apartheid, that "no people in the world worth their salt, would
be content indefinitely with no say or only indirect say in the
affairs of the State or in the country's socioeconomic organisation
in which decisions are taken about their interests and their future."
The immediate aim is, therefore, to keep the races outside the
Bantu areas apart as far as possible, to continue the process
of improving the conditions and standards of living of the Bantu,
and to give them greater responsibility for their own local affairs.
At the same time the longrange aim is to develop the Bantu
areas both agriculturally and industrially, with the object of
making these areas in every sense the national home of the Bantu
- areas in which their interests are paramount, in which to an
ever greater degree all professional and other positions are to
be occupied by them, and in which they are to receive progressively
more and more autonomy.
From Union of South Africa Government: Information Pamphlet (New York, 1953), reprinted in Ruth E. Gordon and Clive Talbot,
eds., From Dias to Vorster: Source Material on South African
History 14881975 (Goodwood, S.A.: Nasou, n.d.), pp.
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997